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Gin Schaffer is a former higher education administrator and works part-time at MWHC's Regional Cancer Center as the Coordinator of Integrative Medicine. She lives in downtown Fredericksburg and enjoys walking and biking with her husband and 2 kids (especially if coffee is involved).



Pink Ribbon Journey

Makeup Clean Up

Recently, my sister asked me to buy her makeup for her birthday.  I often am the one to buy her spa and salon goodies, so this wasn't a stretch, but cosmetics can be tricky.  I mean, friends (or sisters) don't let friends end up looking like Joan Cusack in Working Girl.  I looked forward to the challenge of finding some new and fun products for her.  Plus, I knew I could use an update to my own morning routine - which currently consists of slapping on some SPF moisturizer and lip gloss.  

As I asked my sister what she needed, I realized the conversation reminded me of many discussions I have at my job.  A service we offer patients at the Regional Cancer Center is the American Cancer Society's "Look Better, Feel Better" program - their website is a great resource and I encourage you to check it out.  Whether you're someone who feels just fine with no makeup or wants to know all the latest trends, the goal is to feel confident inside and out.  I hope you learn a little something from my cosmetology adventure!

Important note:  I am not promoting any particular product or store nor giving advice in place of professional guidance.

If you decide that you are in need of a spring cleaning for your makeup, go on-line and do some research.  I polled my friends on Facebook about what products they love, I made sure I knew the rules about the shelf-life of makeup and brushes (I just don't use mascara anymore, it's too hard!), and I reviewed the various top 10 lists and awards (i.e. paraben-free make-up).  This research unearthed for me the miracle that is Micellar water -- really great stuff.  Then, I armed myself with Sunday paper coupons/advertisements and headed out shopping.

Let's all agree that in order for any makeup to work well, it needs a good canvas.  There are countless skincare regimens -- private message me and I can tell you about my use of just about every single one of them.  

Sitting here now, I can list every single soap and cream the women of my family used because each one had such a distinctive smell.  You may be really married to a particular facewash for a variety of reasons, but just make sure you are using cleansing products that make sense for your skin and your budget.  Also, remember that drinking water is an important part of that cleansing regimen too.  And, so is sunscreen.  Use Sunscreen.  Every Day.  Actually, this is one thing I can, as an oncology professional, advise you to do.

Sephora was helpful to me in providing information about the preparation and color correction of the skin and then layering each product such as BB (CC, I'm waiting for DD, seriously, what's up with that?) cream and powder to ensure the best coverage possible.  I think it is definitely valuable to spend time with a specialist to best understand what color hues work best with your skin.  I never in a million years would've thought that putting green stuff on my face would help even out my skin tone.

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I was able to find a nice assortment of products for my sister at Ulta, plus there was a free gift with purchase available.  I think taking advantage of these type of gifts is a great way to test out different colors and product types.  I really love the eye shadow palettes that are out in the market.  It's just so much simpler than collecting a million little eye color pots.  Also, my sister and I've decided we have to return to the world of the compact because loose powder is too drying for us; today's compact has come a long way!

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Once eqipped with some helpful information, it was nice to head into drugstores and discount stores to search for other makeup items like the Micellar water I mentioned before.  I like having lip balms and hand creams in every room and each car, so it's nice to stock up when I come across a coupon, a multi-pack, etc.  Once my shopping was done, I thought I'd test out my new knowledge!

IMG_20160313_204832.jpgGin Sans Make-Up          IMG_20160314_194503.jpgVoila!

I'm currently trying to perfect my 10-minute look ;-)  The most important part of this whole makeup exercise was that I had fun doing it and it helped me to recognize that when I "look and feel" better, I can help others (my patients) feel good too.  I encourage you to set time aside at the end of a Sunday evening to purge your makeup, give yourself a mini-facial, and start anew.  It's a spring cleaning you won't regret ;-)

 

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Circle of Friends

Recently, I was fortunate to catch up with a friend/former co-worker of mine from Boston.  She was in DC with her husband; they used his business trip to take a “babymoon” of sorts before they embark on having their 3rd child.  Godspeed, Lindsey and Richard!  I asked her to reflect on our time together that afternoon and help me with this blog - thanks for your help and constant support, dear friend!

 

image.jpgWind-blown Gin and Lindsey

 

It was truly wonderful to meet up with Lindsey at the National Gallery of Art’s lobby and start talking, right there on the bench, as if we had just seen each other at work yesterday.  We eventually made our way to have lunch where our conversations weaved in and out, covering topics such as motherhood (her pregnancy and my menopause made for some real full circle moments), marriage, work, our kids’ lives, scheduling summer camps (ugh), and friends.

 

Something we pondered was the notion of how hard it is for adults to make friends (check out the Psychology Today article on the matter). Specifically, how challenging it can be for us, as mothers, to navigate our varying social circles.  It’s exhausting -- even if you are not trying that hard to participate!

 

Childhood friends, high school/college friends, neighbors, work colleagues, spouse’s friends, and parents of our kids’ friends all come with different levels of interaction and expectations.  Of course, these groups are not finite (an epic Venn Diagram comes to mind) and, if you throw in your siblings, you really up the ante!

 

Inevitably, our lives go through changes and the individuals in these friend networks come and go and that’s sometimes really hard to process (one might say it’s a lot like grieving).  So, what mature adult would continuously put themselves out there, in the dating world of friends, to try and build their network?

 

Well, we are all human, and most people have some desire to connect, to feel part of something.  Also, some of us recognize the importance of networking for current and future financial livelihood.  Every time I reach out to schedule a coffee, play, or lunch date, I risk rejection.  And, often with risk, can come great rewards (being given the opportunity to write this blog is a terrific example).  The key is to not beat myself up when attempts to connect don’t work out and, here's the tough part...not compare myself to others. It's not a contest and the sooner we realize that as parents, the better we can help children feel confident in how they navigate their own world of friends.

 

Given the number of times Steve and I have moved, I’ve had a lot of experience in starting over and building new support networks. It took me awhile to realize a) I can’t be everything to everyone and b) neither can anyone else.  That’s why I really love an article the magazine Real Simple ran entitled, “5 Types of Friends Everyone Should Have.”  Yes, I know, we shouldn’t live our lives by boxes or lists - I just love the simplicity and truthfulness to how this list feels to me.  And, there are some useful additional resources listed from the contributors to the article.

 

So, the next time you are feeling like you aren’t doing enough in the world of Friends, take stock, I bet you have all you need...

 

The Comic Relief

The Life Coach

The Risk Taker

The Challenger

The Loyalist

 

And even better, I bet you fulfill these roles in so many people’s lives and don’t even know it! ;-)

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School of (Sheet) Rock

Before you read this blog post, please take a moment to read a previous post of mine, When It Rains...well, you know. I ask you to do this so that you have some background on what happened when we moved into our new home last summer.  Life and its trials and tribulations made it really hard for us to get moving on desired renovation projects.  But, time can help to heal wounds and you just have to keep moving forward.

2016 brought us new hope and renewed spirit, so we decided to start our bathroom renovation.  I thought I'd share with you how we prepared for the renovation and what we have learned thus far in the process.  I asked my own "Tim The Tool-Man Taylor" guest co-writer, my husband, Steve to join me.

A quick little side story:  We have owned historic homes before, but our current home has proven to have its own unique, dare we say stubborn personality.  Every time Steve has tried to make updates to the home, he's discovered oddities like upside down porch railings, bizarre wiring and switches, and unlevel areas of oceanic proportions.  These weird instances made us wonder if we had a ghost living with us.  We thought maybe he or she didn't like us or what we were doing to the house.  

Interestingly enough, right before Christmas, we got a card from the widow of the man who grew up in our house, circa 1950s.  She was writing to inform us that we were living in the home of the famous Carroll Edward Braden, Sr., a banker who initiated the development of the Mastercard.  Well, that explained it!  Mr. Braden must not agree with how we are spending our money ;-)

OK - back to the present.  Since it was clear that we weren't in a position to begin a renovation last fall, we spent time researching color palettes, bathroom fixtures, etc.  Additionally, Steve started to come up with a pros and cons list of what he could accomplish if he were to do the renovations himself, including vetting contractors for small jobs to get a sense of who we would use in the future.  

We focused on resources like This Old House, HGTV, and Pinterest for ideas; we also asked a few people for suggestions.  There is a point that you have to recognize when you are over-saturated with information.  So, take a step back when you get overwhelmed and when you return to the enormous amounts of links, pictures, and notes you've collected, be brutal with your editing eye (and, think about the longevity of the style you are selecting).

Right now, you might be asking, so, is Steve doing the bathroom renovation or did you hire someone? Steve decided to do the renovation (with a little bit of help from me).  Here are the key things to consider:

1)  Do you have the tools necessary for the job?  Which tools will you have to rent?  What is your plan for debris removal?  The amount of dust is shocking - our Shop-Vac hates us.

2)  Do you have the time to do this renovation?  Steve works a full-time job and then the renovation is like a part-time job at night and on weekends.  Understanding that your evenings will look different than they did before the renovation started, prepare dinners ahead of time, get homework done so you can take the kids out of the house for an activity - if they don't already have extra-curriculars scheduled.  If they have weekly after-school activities, be prepared to make scheduling compromises to increase the time the main renovator has to work on the job.

3)  You become the contractor of the job.  What is your knowledge base in plumbing, electricity, painting, tiling, drywall and masonry?  Steve accounted for calling in an electrician to handle the unique wiring and maximized his time by having him do other tasks in the house./

4)  Is your family able to handle this renovation?  Meaning, it will take longer to do the renovation yourself and in our case, we are down to 1 bathroom.  Luckily for us, Jack just went through a lesson about old passenger ships and chamber pots at school!

5)  Be savvy in your reuse, reduce, and recycling.  We can't recommend this highly enough - any household item you have, please consider donating to Habitat for Humanity Restore (and shop there too!)  Also, Thumbtack is a helpful resource for getting smaller projects accomplished (e.g. debris removal).

Many of us have heard that there is never a good time to start a family (e.g., you'll never have enough money).  Well, in many ways, starting a home renovation project is a lot like making room for another living, growing thing.  It can take over and rule your house before you know it!  We waited until after the holidays to start and right when we began, the blizzard hit - proof that there is never a good time, you just have to go for it!

IMG_20150208_092153.jpgBathroom Upon Move-In     IMG_20160224_194833.jpgThe Soaking Tub is In

We look forward to showing you the finished project...stay tuned!

 

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#LOVEFXBG - A Year Later

Today, Facebook reminded me that it was a year ago today that I attended Miss Caroline's Tree House Open House and thus, my blog post, #LOVEFXBG was born.  There are definitely times that I feel like Facebook's "walk down memory lane" is not helpful, at all, but this was a most welcome reminder.

Last weekend, my daughter and I enjoyed attending a wonderful birthday party at the KD'z Kidz World in Stafford.  If you haven't been there in awhile, they've expanded to include some bouncy activities for older, bigger kids.  It was nice spending time with other parents and seeing the kids enjoy each other's company.  After this, we met up with the rest of the family at University of Mary Washington's Battlefield to check out the men's baseball game.  There are so many Eagles sports that are fun, free, and outdoors!

Since the weather was so nice, we walked over to Kenmore Park to find our new brick (thanks to Fredericksburg Area Service League).  I wonder if we will see any more snow cover those bricks this season?

Then, we headed over to the Olde Towne Butcher because we couldn't pass up the opportunity to have a summer grilling night in February!  It was great seeing everyone out and about downtown; I think every restaurant was full!

A week prior, a bunch of us got together at Miss Caroline's Tree House to enjoy Valentine's weekend (and the tree house's anniversary), but more importantly to make cards for the children who are at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  We will be visiting the hospital during spring break and look forward to hand-delivering the cards.  
 
This card-making party was my sonsJack's idea.  When we create these moments of doing good for and with one another, we give our children something to build on as they create their own civic identities.  As we were leaving, Jack said, "Well, that was a huge success!"  I couldn't have loved him (and Fredericksburg) more at that moment!  
 
I thank Miss Caroline for hosting the party and I thank this community for their caring spirit.  #LOVEFXBG #ALWAYS
 

IMG_20150221_131233.jpgMiss Caroline & Anna, February 2015     IMG_20160213_115336.jpgMiss Caroline & Anna, February 2016     IMG_20160213_120217.jpgHappy Card Makers!

 

 

 

 

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Reuniting with My Ex (Fitbit)

It was Christmas 2014, I had successfully completed the brutal stages of chemotherapy and was ready to tackle radiation.  As is often the case for caregivers, my treatment had taken its toll on Steve, so I could tell he was hoping the new year would breathe life back into a healthier lifestyle for the both of us.  We definitely were feeling like 2015 was going to be our year and really, who could blame us after everything we had been through?  It made sense for us to try and find something to do together, to help us feel better.  Looking back, I can see how we were such easy targets for any exercise tracking (um, judging) gadget that holiday season.

We each got the basic Fitbit Flex and had fun with the different features, including the sleep tracker and competitions you can set up with one another.  I also liked receiving the badges after I walked a certain distance.  But, then, radiation started to take an unexpected toll on me and the fatigue was just too much to cope with, so I couldn't keep up.  I tried, I really did, because I knew that partnership would be beneficial for Steve, and me, and us as a couple.  I knew how disappointing it was to feel like we were sliding back into 2014.  Then, my tracker just stopped working.  No matter how many force stops, reboots, and troubleshoots I tried, I couldn't get it to consistently work.  A relationship I thought I wanted to be in, but just couldn't get it to work.  Exhausting. Sound familiar?

So, I took it as a sign that I just needed to stop - my Fitbit and I broke up.  Steve was now on his own island of Misfit Fitbits.

He did really well on his own for awhile, he walked a lot, played tennis, but then the roller coaster of life caught up with him too.  During the summer of 2015, we moved into our new house and his brother unexpectedly died a week later.  Everything just stopped.  And, due to a condition called rhabdomyolysis, Steve has been struggling since late last fall to get back to his daily level of activity. And then? He lost his Fitbit!

After reading this funny, "I know you know some of these people" article about the emotional struggles people have with their Fitbits, I realized that for us, getting those little trackers had really nothing to do with getting "fit."  We were searching for order, control to the chaos we had been living in since I was diagnosed.  Steve has recognized that he doesn't need to nor want to replace his Fitbit at this time.  I, however, have decided to give this relationship one more shot.  My expectations as well as goals are relatively in check now; I know I'll have some difficult moments.  I remind myself that it's about the journey, not the destination.  And, if this little tracker decides to not come along for the ride, that's o.k.

If you find yourself looking for unique ways to get some indoor exercise this winter, here are a few suggestions:

1)  The crazy animals ride at the mall run at a good pace for you to walk alongside.

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2)  Driving to Potomac Mills and walking that huge place is totally worth it (at least once this season).

3)  Flight, Jumpology, Rebounderz, and Sky Zone are all Indoor Trampoline facilities.  Start practicing now, evidently the region's largest Rebounderz is slated to open in the old Ukrops spot in 2017!

4)  Never underestimate a dancing, clean-up house party.  If you find your phone isn't charged, try your cable network's music channels.

 

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